Rocky wants no hard-nosed sentencer

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Moves to avoid judge who threw book at Leon

By Damon Lawrence

Rocky Houston doesn’t want to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves.

In a motion filed on June 15, Houston attorney Michael McGovern contends Reeves should recuse himself because of what he was exposed to during the trials and sentencing of Leon Houston, who is Rocky Houston’s older brother.

Leon was tried in federal court for possession of firearms while under the influence of an illegal substance and using a telephone communication to threaten to kill Cleveland, Tenn., attorney James Logan.

He was found not guilty of the firearms charge, but convicted of threatening to kill Logan.

Reeves gave Leon the maximum five-year sentence on March 4.

“In both trials and the sentencing hearing, an extensive amount of incriminating and unchallenged evidence regarding Rocky Houston was presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” McGovern said. “Evidence presented in those hearings, e.g., possession of large quantity of drugs by Rocky Houston and conduct relating to the shooting of a Roane County sheriff’s deputy and his ride-along passenger in May 2006, were completely irrelevant and extraneous to the charges lodged against Rocky Houston in this federal prosecution.”

On March 19, a jury found Rocky Houston guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of firearms. He’s scheduled to be sentenced by Reeves on June 26 at the federal courthouse in Knoxville.

“This defendant (Rocky Houston) asserts that because Judge Reeves presided over his brother’s trials and his brother’s sentencing hearing, his ability to be fair and unprejudiced as to the defendant has necessarily been called into doubt,” the motion said.

Federal guidelines call for a sentence range of 87-108 months. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jennings filed a memorandum on Monday requesting Rocky Houston be sentenced at the top of the range at nine years.

“The sentence imposed needs to be such that it impresses upon the defendant the seriousness of his offense and awakens him to the fact that he is going to be appropriately punished by the judicial system, whether he respects it or not,” Jennings said.